It’s been predicted that 2014 will become LinkedIn’s most influential year yet. Yet, our recent Digital Marketing in Canada survey showed that 51 percent of businesses are not on LinkedIn. It’s time for a wake up call, and I’m going to tell you why, and then share a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
Why should LinkedIn matter to your business?
The LinkedIn of today is no longer the tedious “resume website” where your valuable talent got snapped up by recruiters (although I can’t argue that it still plays this roll). Today, it is more focused on building a qualified lead generation network, particularly for B2B organizations. It is often the first place your customers and prospects are coming to connect, engage in groups, and even scope out you or your sales team. The reason lies in LinkedIn’s evolution: B2B and B2C businesses and brands are catching on to the power of this social network, and LinkedIn is feeding the fire by making it easier with tools like advertising, published content, sponsored posts and social selling. The other important factor in leveraging LinkedIn as another component of your Web presence is the development of social signals to help boost your organic search visibility.
Here are a few insights directly from LinkedIn to show its reach and potential:
- 300 million registered users globally
- More than 3 million companies have LinkedIn Company Pages
- More than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups in every topic area imaginable
- 200+ conversations per minute
- 50% of Fortune 100 companies are using LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions
- 91% of B2B content marketers prefer to use and engage on LinkedIn
So now that I have you convinced on why your business needs LinkedIn, it’s time to tell you how to take full advantage of what LinkedIn has to offer.
Step by step guide to building your business through LinkedIn
Step 1: Maximize your personal profile
Before focusing on your business profile, get to work on your personal profile. It you are a C-level executive, director, business development or sales lead, this is an essential first step. Here are some tips to get started:
- Make sure you have a professional headshot.
- Use the Summary section as an opportunity to tell a story about your career and what you’ve accomplished.
- Tell your connections how your can help them. What can they expect from you and what value can you bring?
- Work in searchable keywords that link back to your business.
Step 2: Share content
Show people you have unique insights and thought leadership to offer by sharing content relevant to your target audience.
- Share industry articles with a brief description of why you liked the article and why your audience may find it useful.
- Like and Share your company’s blogs or other content with a brief description of how it may help them in their business.
- Attach your company’s best visual content to the Summary section of your profile so connections will see it front and centre. Not many users are taking advantage of this function in LinkedIn yet and those who aren’t are missing out. Here’s an example of how impactful it looks to share company visuals on your LinkedIn profile:
Step 3: Join groups and start sharing
With more than 2 million groups to choose from, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t one that is good fit for almost any business or profession. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, but for maximum success, I recommend that you focus on no more than 10. Start by searching for Groups using keywords that will fit with your business, i.e. geography, industry, prospects. Evaluate the group for fit before joining. Many groups aren’t well monitored and they simply may not have the collaboration that will lead to success. Then start sharing, but be careful not to be too promotional. Instead, you want to ask questions and provide answers, contributing to ongoing discussions whenever it makes sense.
Step 4: Harness the full potential of social selling
According to LinkedIn, social selling leaders are 51% more likely to achieve quota and 80% more productive. So it’s no surprise LinkedIn is leading the pack in social selling tools and many B2B business are already reaping the rewards of its solutions. If you haven’t already done so, consider upgrading your account or the account of one of your company’s key individuals to experience these lead generation and sales tools:
- Easy to use Lead Builder that allows you set custom criteria and build sales leads lists that you can save privately.
- Get lead recommendations about the influencers and decision makers in your industry.
- Use TeamLink to see who within your company is connected to potential prospects, then reach out for warm introductions.
- Access to the full profiles of 3rd degree connections, which improves the chances of uncovering a potentially valuable connection.
Still want to know more? LinkedIn explains it best in this presentation.
Step 5: Build your company page.
Now that you’ve succeeded in building your personal profile, you can confidently turn your focus to your Company page. This will become a place to share content your audience will find relevant and useful — solving a problem or gap they may have. You can share content by linking to your company blog, sharing videos, graphics, product information or links to relevant pages on your website where they can download guides or other information. Other tips include:
- Consider paying for sponsored posts to extend the reach and awareness of your company. This is all measurable through LinkedIn’s analytics so you can see exactly how many people saw the post, clicked or started following your company.
- Show your brand personality in the profile images, company description and other content. Keep it consistent with the tone, style and colours used on your website.
- Choose a Company spokesperson who will be responsible for sharing your Company content with the relevant groups in your industry or where you expect your prospects to be in order to establish your thought leadership.
- Get other employees involved by sharing Company page update content on their personal LinkedIn profiles to extend the reach of your content to their personal networks. You never know who a prospect may be connected to.
Time to get started
The result is clear: If you are a B2B focused company, LinkedIn is where you need to be spending your time if you want to generate qualified business leads and partnerships. With these steps in hand, you have no reason to delay.
About the Author
Marc Hill is the Founder and CEO of Digital Giants, a web presence marketing agency. As leader at Digital Giants, Marc and the team work with industry partners to craft digital marketing solutions, through content marketing, social media marketing, search marketing, web presence optimization and digital strategy development. Specializing in the B2B and pharma industries, Digital Giants helps its clients build qualified business leads, increase profitability and connect with influencers and the community.